David Ives (b. 1950) is a contemporary American playwright. His plays are often but not always in one act, and often but not always comedies. They are notable for their verbal dexterity, theatrical invention and quirky humor. His most popular book of plays is "All in the Timing," which originated as an evening of one-act comedies that premiered at Primary Stages in 1993, moved to the larger John Houseman Theatre, and ran for 606 performances. The evening won him the Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award for Playwriting. In the mid-1990's, after having been a contributor to Spy Magazine, he wrote many occasional humor pieces for the New York Times Magazine, the New Yorker, and other publications. In that same period, New York Magazine named him one of the "100 Smartest New Yorkers."
Ives attended a minor Catholic seminary in Chicago and Northwestern University and, after some years' interval, Yale School of Drama, where he received an MFA in playwriting. In the interval between Northwestern and Yale he worked for three years as an editor at Foreign Affairs Magazine. His first play in New York was "Canvas" at the Circle Repertory Company in 1972, followed at the same theatre by "Saint Freud" in 1975. He first attracted the critics' notice, however, in the late 1980's with a string of original one-act comedies that began to appear annually in the Manhattan Punch Line's yearly one-act play festival. Those plays, along with others written later, formed the evenings "All in the Timing," "Mere Mortals," and "Lives of the Saints." Among the best-known of his one-act comedies are "Sure Thing," "Words, Words, Words," "Variations on the Death of Trotsky," "Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread," and "The Universal Language." The short pieces are especially popular with high-school drama students and college performers, and are a staple of drama competitions. Most of them can be found in the anthologies "All in the Timing" and "Mere Mortals." His full-length plays up to 2005 are collected in "Polish Joke And Other Plays." The title play of the latter provides a rather surrealistic glimpse into Ives's Polish-American background and biography.
In the early 1990's he started working in music theatre with the libretto for an opera based on Frances Hodgson Burnett's "The Secret Garden" (music by Greg Pliska). It premiered in Philadephia in 1991 at the Pennsylvania Opera Theatre. He then became a regular adapter in New York's celebrated "Encores!" series of classic American musicals in concert, working on two or three a year for the next dozen or more years. He continues working in the series to this day. His "Encores!" adaptation of "Wonderful Town" moved to Broadway's Beck Theatre in 2003, directed by Kathleen Marshall. In the late 1990's he adapted David Copperfield's magic show "Dreams and Nightmares" for Broadway, also at the Beck. He also adapted Cole Porter's "Jubilee" and Rodgers and Hammerstein's "South Pacific" (with Reba McEntire) for concert performances at Carnegie Hall. In 2002, he did brush-up work on the German transfer "Dance of the Vampires," with book, music and lyrics by rock-and-roll legend Jim Steinman and original German book and lyrics by Michael Kunze. A $12 million-dollar (some say $14 million-dollar) fiasco, it flopped, closing in early 2003. He co-wrote the book for "Irving Berlin's White Christmas," which premiered in San Francisco in 2004 and has been seen across the country since. Most recently, he did a new translation of Feydeau's classic farce "A Flea in Her Ear," which premiered in Chicago in 2006.
In 2001 he ventured into children's literature with the novel "Monsieur Eek," which he followed with "Scrib" in 2005. He lives in New York City with his wife, Martha.
- David Ives Author Bio
- Complete List of David Ives Plays